Acadia National Park Trip Report

Acadia National Park Photography

A aspen leaf lies frozen in ice atop Acadia's Cadillac Mountain. © Kurt Budliger Photography

Well it’s been almost 4 weeks since I returned from shooting in Acadia National Park near Bar Harbor Maine and I’m just getting some of the final editing and processing completed.  The primary emphasis of the trip was to photograph the usually outstanding fall foliage display in the park.  I say usually outstanding foliage because this year was a complete dud as far as the foliage was concerned.  Typically the foliage in Acadia National Park peaks out a couple of weeks after peak color here in VT, usually the week following Columbus Day.  I’ve been over to Acadia during previous years and remember being totally blown away by the color, vibrant red maples and some insanely scarlet huckleberry on the mountain summits and with lots of yellows thrown in from the many birches, aspens and striped maple.

This year, for some reason the color wasn’t very good.  In fact, most of the maples were stripped bare and and everything else seemed really dry, drab and crispy.  Another factor that hampered our efforts was some pretty miserable weather.  The temps were extremely cold for this time of year (highs in the 30s with some snow showers and ice on Cadillac Mtn.), it was cloudy for sunrise and sunset and the wind never stopped blowing.  In fact, the only thing it didn’t do while we were there was rain, so at least we had that going for us.

Once we got over the initial disappointment from the lack of color and quit whining we got down to the business at hand; photographing, which even on a bad day is a hell of a lot better than being stuck in the office.  Not hitting ideal conditions for outdoor photography is just part of the business, and for this photographer seems to be more the norm unfortunately.  Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate.  The mark of a professional photographer is making the best of these situations and making lemonade from the proverbial lemons he/she is dealt.  I’ll be dedicating an entire future post to this very subject, There is Always Something to Shoot…

We spent the first day working some woodland scenes and in fact found a really pretty little grove of aspens with some decent color left hanging on.  We also bumped into a couple of fellow photographers from the Nature Photographer’s Network, Ed and Michael Lowe, brothers from Maryland.  We had a great time getting to know these guys and shared some goodhearted ribbing and general fellowship while working some intimate landscape compositions in the forest.  After spending the better part of the day in the forest some nasty weather rolled in forcing us to abort our sunset plans.

Acadia National Park Photography

Aspen grove in Acadia National Park, Maine © Kurt Budliger Photography

Acadia National Park Photography

Autumn grasses outline a game path through a stand of aspens in Acadia National Park, Maine. © Kurt Budliger Photography

The next morning I headed out in the pre-dawn light to get a shot of Otter Cliffs at sunrise.  Again, I was skunked by the heavy cloud cover that had rolled in during the previous afternoon and evening.  The rest of the day was spent trying to stay warm, drinking lots of coffee and prowling around some fishing docks in Bernard and Bass Harbor in the southwest portion of Mount Desert Island.  We were actually quite productive here and found tons of great “iconic” coastal Maine subject matter to shoot.  Even though an evening sunset looked fairly improbable we headed down to Bass Harbor Lighthouse just in case.  Low and behold we did catch a break and scored a pretty decent display of color at sunset.

Acadia National Park Photography

Buoys and traps Bass Harbor Maine © Kurt Budliger Photography

Acadia National Park Photography

Lobster buoys © Kurt Budliger Photography

Acadia National Park Photography

Close up detail of some rope coils on a fishing dock in Bass Harbor Maine © Kurt Budliger Photography

Acadia National Park Photography

Lobster fishng gear on the docks of Bass Harbor, Maine © Kurt Budliger Photography

Acadia National Park Photography

Sunset light at Acadia National Park's Bass Harbor Lighthouse © Kurt Budliger Photography

The final morning we headed back to Otter Cliffs and Boulder Beach in hopes of catching some nice light at dawn.  No such luck and to make matters even more challenging there was an enormous group of people there from one of the many photo workshops taking place in the park.  Finding a good composition that didn’t include someone or their tripod was a real challenge.  I decided to emphasize the cool tones of twilight by shooting an extremely long exposure, over a minute in length.  This did two things, first it created an otherworldly mood by blurring the incoming waves and second really saturated the blues present in the pre-dawn light.

After reassessing the weather and our chances of hitting a good sunset and sunrise the following morning we decided to call the trip and head back to Vermont a day early.  All in all the trip was fairly productive and yielded a handful of images I’m pretty psyched about.  If you’ve never been to Acadia National Park I would highly recommend a visit, even for a non-photographer.  There is tons to see and do, lots of great hiking, sightseeing, and biking on the miles of carriage roads.  Can’t wait to try again next year.

Acadia National Park Photography

Pre-dawn light at Boulder Beach in Acadia National Park, Maine © Kurt Budliger Photography

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~ by kurtbudliger on November 9, 2009.

One Response to “Acadia National Park Trip Report”

  1. Kurt,
    Your photos are the best!!
    Diane

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